There is little doubt the United States is experiencing an unseasonably warm summer. In June NOAA proclaimed the Lower 48 saw record-setting warmth during the first half of 2012. Two days ago climate changealarmists gleefully touted NOAA's latest claim that July 2012 was the hottest month ever recorded in the contiguous United States, besting even the Dust Bowl years of the 1930s.
Analysis performed by Anthony Watts of the climate blog Watts Up With That? using NOAA's own "high-quality climate observation network" contradict the agency's claims however.
Watts has been instrumental in documenting the ongoing issues with the nation's climate monitoring stations. The majority of these fail to meet NOAA's own standards for accuracy or those of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) making the data they generate highly questionable.
Examples of problematic weather stations providing "hot" data abound.
In Denver, the National Weather Station moved the official weather station 14 miles in 1994 and as a result the Mile High City's climate record has been forever altered. At the new site high temperatures routinely are considerably hotter than at the old location.
When asked in June about the data from Denver, Deke Arndt, Chief of the Climate Monitoring Branch at NOAA's National Climactic Data Center (NCDC) said via email the city's climate record is not valid for historical comparisons.
"It introduces some apples-and-oranges issues of its own," Amdt said.
In Baltimore, the monitoring station at the Maryland Science Center fails to meet NOAA’s own standards for siting to ensure accurate data. Additionally, as noted by Meteorologist Justin Berk, Baltimore Weather Examiner, the weather station at Baltimore Washington International Airport has shown a propensity for generating spurious data requiring constant corrections.
“It doesn’t matter what your stance is about global warming, you should want accurate data to support any research,” Berk says.
On the West Coast, NASA documented the problems with Los Angeles climate data due to a station move. "The move from downtown Los Angeles to USC in 1999 has caused a major hiccup in our local climate history," climatologist Dr. Bill Patzert of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory said.
NOAA itself recognizes the issue with these and many other stations and in 2002 began the creation of the US Climate Reference Network (USCRN). These 122 stations scattered across the United States are meticulously sited and controlled specifically to "maintain a sustainable high-quality climate observation network." The result is some of the highest quality climate data possible, free from outside influences and corruption.
How big of a difference would it make if NOAA used the high-quality USCRN data versus data from stations with major issues? Quite a lot it turns out.
Using the older, known faulty climate network, NOAA claims that the Lower 48 saw an average temperature of 77.6 degrees in July. This reported measurement was an eye-popping 3.3 degrees above the 20th century average making it not only the hottest July on record but also the hottest month ever recorded in the contiguous U.S.
In stark contrast, using NOAA's own premier monitoring network, Watts' analysis shows that the claim is far off base from reality.
USCRN data reveals a monthly mean temperature for July 2012 of 75.5 degrees. Hot? Yes. Record setting? Hardly.
Oddly enough, NOAA disregards the USCRN data - the most accurate available - when issuing a claim such as they did in recent days saying July 2012 was the "hottest month on record for contiguous United States." Instead the agency uses the faulty data from Denver, Baltimore, Los Angeles and hundreds of other problematic stations.
This begs the question: Why does NOAA use data known to be inaccurate versus data from the newer, highly accurate network specifically created to monitor the climate?
Watts postulates on his blog, "NOAA never mentions this new pristine USCRN network in any press releases on climate records or trends, nor do they calculate and display a CONUS value for it. Now we know why. The new “pristine” data it produces is just way too cool for them."
Given the evidence presented, Watts clearly has a valid point.
NOAA’s USCRN website explains that current systems are “inadequate and deteriorating.” The agency touts the need for the data from the USCRN saying that without it, “We do not have, in fact, an observing network capable of ensuring long-term climate records free of time-dependent biases.”
If the data NOAA uses is faulty, then any conclusions reached from that data should be viewed with a skeptical eye and claims of the ‘hottest month on record’ and warnings about disastrous global warming are most likely overcooked.